Margo Smith is on the road again as she celebrates Christmas after a year filled with pain, anguish and physical rehabilitation.
The 72-year-old singer went on the highway for the first time Christmas Eve after a devastating accident last August.
“This week I got a new car and today I took it out by myself,” she said Wednesday. “Just like Willie Nelson, I’m on the road again.”
Smith, a famed country singer and Villages resident, suffered severe injuries last August when her car was demolished after a collision on County Road 42 near the Mulberry Grove shopping plaza. The 16-year old driver of the other vehicle was cited for failure to yield after his vehicle collided with Smith’s sporty two-door.
She spent nearly three months living at the Club Health and Rehabilitation Center and returned to her Village of Chatham home a few weeks ago. She suffered a broken ankle and shattered wrist in the accident. Smith was wearing a seatbelt and she had the top up on her Mercedes convertible. Police told her that without the seatbelt or the top down, she would not have survived.
Despite all the physical and mental hardship, Smith believes this is a wonderful Christmas and time of her life.
“This has been a good year for me,” Smith said. “I survived. I can walk. And I can sing.”
Smith’s professional comeback will be complete on Feb. 7, when she performs at the American Legion Post 347, 699 W Lady Lake Blvd.
“I can’t wait to sing on stage again,” Smith said.
She has been singing every day and also rehearses with a band and country singer Johnny McCullah. She will also appear with her daughter Holly – known for doing Lexus of Orlando commercials — at a March concert at the Fairway Christian Church in Lady Lake.
Such performances have deep significance for Smith and her family.
“She’s worked so hard for this,” said Richard, her husband. “It’s been a very difficult time but she is doing so much better and we’re so grateful. The fact she can drive a car by herself is a big thing. She was apprehensive about driving at first, but she’s doing well. That’s the way she is, always ready to meet a challenge.”
After the accident, medical personnel feared Smith had suffered brain damage but, fortunately, there was no damage. Smith, unable to walk or use her left hand, soon began an arduous rehab program.
“My left wrist was crushed against the steering wheel,” Smith said. “Blood was gushing out of it. I had a terrible pain in my leg. I just didn’t know what was going to happen.”
It was time of uncertainty for the country music star known as “The Tennessee Yodeler.” She gained fame in the ‘70s and ‘80s with such hits as, “Little Things Mean A Lot,” “It Only Hurts for A Little While” and “Don’t Break The Heart That Loves You.” Smith was a regular on the Grand Ole Opry and Ryman Auditorium in Nashville.”
Many of her fans sent well wishes after the accident.
“We had over 200 cards from around the world,” Richard said. “Margo has touched so many people with her music and those people care about her.”
But Smith had to do the rehabilitation by herself.
“Went I first went to rehab the first thing I asked them was ‘Will I be able to walk again?’ They said I would, but it wasn’t going to be easy. I told them my goal was to walk out that place by myself, without a cane or walker.”
It took nearly two months before Smith was able to take a step by herself. “I took one step and then another. It was hard and it hurt, but it was a great feeling to walk by myself.”
She still has swelling issues near the ankle. A plate was put into her wrist and she has screws in the ankle area. “Every time I go through an airport security line I’m going to set off buzzers,” Smith laughed.
Now, as Smith celebrates the holidays and the rest of her life, she is philosophical about everything that happened.
“I love life and I try to live each day as much as I can,” she said, adding that she couldn’t have made it without her husband.
“Richard was there every single day for me,” Smith said. He credits a higher power.
“God is good,” Richard said. “He was there for Margo and we will always be grateful.”